The ensemble cast of CBS' How I Met Your Mother (Mondays at 8:30 pm/ET) boasts beauties, cuties, and some freaks and geeks. OK, to be specific it features Freaks and Geeks alum Jason Segel, playing the happily (and horny-ly) married buddy who gets Ted thinking about finding his own perfect woman. TVGuide.com spoke to Segel about his Mother role, wooing Sydney Bristow and doing, um, R-rated things to watermelons.
TVGuide.com: Going into this, did you ever predict Mother would be as big a success as it is?
Jason Segel: You know, the thing that got me thinking that we had something good was that it was very easy right from the start, easier than anything I had ever experienced. The cast got along really, really well, and the casting process was just a dream, really. They had seen the Freaks and Geeks DVDs when they came out, so I was really lucky that they made me a test offer before I had even auditioned, which has never happened for me before. And then I went in and got the role.
TVGuide.com: Tell me about the party you had when the show got picked up for a full season.
Segel: Oh, yeah, it was fantastic. We were on the set doing a scene in the bar, and as the cameras start rolling, a voice comes over the loudspeaker — it was Carter Bays, one of our producers and creators — saying, "I just want to let everybody know we've been picked up for the back nine." It was just pandemonium, everyone started cheering — and they've got it all on tape, which is the best part. Later on that day they wheeled out a big cart filled with hundreds of glasses of champagne and we all toasted each other. It was a real treat.
TVGuide.com: So the cast is gelling well? No backstage catfighting amongst the boys? "Damn that Neil Patrick Harris for getting all the zingers!"
Segel: [Laughs] No, no... everybody is really happy, I must say. They're really doing a good job of servicing all of us, and playing off of what we're good at. Neil's character (Barney) is just unbelievably funny, and Josh [Radnor, as Ted] is great as the sort of staple and anchor of the show, and I think Hannigan and I are doing a really good job....
TVGuide.com: How is it having Alyson Hannigan for a TV wife? I imagine she's a pretty damn cool one.
Segel: She is, I must say. It's a real treat to show up and do scenes with her because she always comes in prepared and hilarious, so you know you've got to bring your "A" game. It's nice to be challenged that way.
TVGuide.com: I recall an interview where she said that even though Miss American Pie could probably headline her own series, she's thrilled to be part of an ensemble.
Segel: Yeah. I don't want to speak for everybody, but we kind of sit in awe of each other a little bit. We watch each other do our scenes and laugh — genuinely laugh — at each other.
TVGuide.com: When I spoke to Josh, he said you'd done some "songwriting" for the show, for an episode in which Marshall hums some goofy lyrics?
Segel: Oh, right... they wrote me a really challenging and great story line where everybody leaves to go do something fun, and Marshall is left alone to study law and all it said on the [script] page was "[he sings] some nonsensical lyrics"....
TVGuide.com: I have news for you: Marshall never seems to study law.
Segel: Yeah, I know, it's hilarious. But the script just said "[he sings] some nonsensical lyrics," so I was left to figure out how to make that a coherent episode. [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: You must have been like, "Thank god I'm a musician in real life."
Segel: Yeah, it worked out OK, it worked out OK.
TVGuide.com: Are you as much of a "guy's guy" as Marshall is?
Segel: I think I'm not, actually. There are some parts of me that are like that, but I like to play the piano, listen to my record player.... I'm on a basketball team, I play my sports and drink beer and all that good stuff, but I like a nice jazz album, too.
TVGuide.com: For something that only ran 18 episodes, Freaks and Geeks earned a nice little cult following, eh?
Segel: It did, it really did, and that was the coolest. When the DVDs came out, there was this little resurgence and a lot of people who said they had seen the show finally actually saw the show [Laughs], which was nice. People have been kind about it and, as I said, that's how I ended up getting this show, so it was pretty perfect.
TVGuide.com: You once guested on Alias; that has to be a young actor's dream.
Segel: It was pretty cool, I must say! I got shot....
TVGuide.com: Even better! If I went on Alias, I would totally want to get shot.
Segel: Oh, man, I got shot by the evil guest star, got to have a little love story with Jennifer Garner, which was a treat, and I got chased by a robotic helicopter. A robotic killer helicopter.
TVGuide.com: I remember your episode now; the helicopter chase was in a warehouse, right? And you were a guy Sydney met in a bar and flirted with to sneak out? I think she had on a wig.
Segel: I think she did! In fact, TV Guide gave me a "Cheers" for that, if I recall. They recognized me from Freaks and Geeks.
TVGuide.com: What do you do with your free time?
Segel: I do some writing on the side. I'm starting to send some scripts out that hopefully I can get made during a hiatus. We'll see how that goes. One's a drama, one's a comedy.... I write a little bit of everything.
TVGuide.com: Lastly, dare I ask about your role as "Matt, Watermelon Guy" in Can't Hardly Wait?
Segel: Funny enough, that was my very, very first movie; I was 17 years old. I actually think it got cut out of the movie because they decided to go from R to PG-13.
TVGuide.com: Jason, what on earth were you doing to that watermelon?!
Segel: I'm trying to remember — it's coming up on eight years — but he had scooped out the insides of a watermelon and infused it with vodka and was serving it at a high-school party.... I don't remember all the details, surprisingly! [Laughs]